GEORGE TOWN, June 7 — Penang was second only to Port Klang in terms of cruise passenger arrivals last year.
Tourism Malaysia Director General Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said international cruise ship calls to Malaysia have increased in the last four years, from 341 ship calls in 2012 to 487 last year.
“The international cruise ship calls to 13 different ports all over Malaysia and Penang has the highest number of port calls last year, at 145, to be followed by 137 in Port Klang,” he said during a press conference at the welcome ceremony of Royal Caribbean International’s newest billion-dollar ship, Ovation of the Seas.
Penang saw a total 125,802 cruise passenger arrivals last year while Port Klang received a total 209,821 cruise passengers, he added.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng noted the significant growth of the cruise industry where Malaysia had hosted the second highest number of port calls, at 505, in South-east Asia after Japan that recorded 626 calls in 2014.
“Within those 505 port calls to Malaysia, Penang has been the leading port for the cruise industry and together with Port Klang, makes up 46 per cent of the cruise market in Malaysia,” he said.
He also suggested that the Royal Caribbean consider making Penang the homeport for its cruise ships, particularly the Ovation of the Seas. The ship’s current home port is in Tian Jin, China.
Penang is the first South-east Asia port-of-call for Ovation of the Seas in its 14-night cruise from Dubai to Singapore.
The new 347m-long ship has a total capacity for 4,905 guests in 2,090 staterooms with 1,500 crew.
Royal Caribbean’s Singapore and South-east Asia Managing Director Sean Treacy said Ovation of the Seas along with Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas made up the company’s largest cruise fleet deployment in South-east Asia.
“This reaffirms our commitment to bringing the cruise industry in Penang and the region to greater heights,” he said.
The Royal Caribbean will be making more ship calls in Penang from all three ships, doubling it from 15 this year to 32 next year.